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TechEd? SAPPHIRE? Madrid? Las Vegas? Which one should you go to?

For those of you that don’t know me, I run a consulting practice of about 75 Business Analytics & Technology consultants for SAP Services Partner Bluefin Solutions in the United Kingdom. As a result we send a reasonably contingency from within my team to SAP’s TechEd conferences.

I don’t know about other Services Partners but for us, many senior consultants would rather go to TechEd than to other training courses because they can pick a broad range of learning topics and get hands on with new technology. This year howeve there seemed to be some confusion over the conferences and who should go to which. So I went to see Vice President and COO of the SAP Community Network and Ecosystem Events at SAP, Chip Rodgers, to get some clarity.

What is the difference between SAP TechEd in Las Vegas and Madrid?

SAP TechEd Las Vegas happens from September 12-16, 2011 and SAP TechEd Madrid happens from November 8-10, 2011. The actual content in these events will be the same, in principle – with the same speakers in most cases and the same speaking sessions. In reality there will no doubt be some refinement of content between Las Vegas and Madrid like there was in 2010, when SAP improved the Gateway content for Bangalore.

What about SAPPHIRE and TechEd being colocated in Madrid?

Yes – SAP’s commercially-focussed event will be happening at the same time as TechEd in Madrid. SAPPHIRE USA was run in May in Orlando, and there will be no November SAPPHIRE event in the USA. Here’s the kicker though. Whilst a full price ticket for TechEd costs ¢2240 and SAPPHIRE costs ¢1600 – the TechEd ticket gets you access to all the SAPPHIRE events too. This makes TechEd incredibly good value in Madrid.

Update: Chip collared me yesterday evening and corrected me that the SAPPHIRE ticket gives you access to some of the TechEd content – the show floor and some of the lecture sessions. But crucually not the hands-on sessions and those are the ones that add most value by far.

But I want to party! Where is the best place to go?

Well normally I’d say Las Vegas – the clubs and food are fantastic. But I’m a huge fan of Madrid for restaurants and what’s more, there will be a shared band between SAPPHIRE and TechEd. In Vegas, New Republic will be playing – bit in Madrid, it will be something huge. Chip wouldn’t confirm what it was as it’s not been confirmed, but in SAPPHIRE Orlando, it was Sting. Madrid will be huge.

I hear that the mobility stuff will be better in Las Vegas – is this true?

Well the TechEd content will be the same but in Las Vegas, Sybase TechWave will be colocated with TechEd. And again if you buy a TechEd ticket for $2495, you will get access to all the TechWave sessions. If you want to get deep into the depths of the Sybase Unwired Platform, this might be nice for you.

What else is happening only in Vegas?

Well the content for this isn’t firmed up in Madrid and it may happen, but Knowledge Quest has definitely been confirmed for Vegas and it looks awesome. It’s a sort of quiz and Chip promises that there will be iPad giveaways as well as up to $10,000 to charity.

So what are the highlights of TechEd 2011?

Well this is only my opinion, but InnoJam should be a lot of fun and is also around Gamification in Las Vegas. It costs a little more to do InnoJam on Sunday/Monday but you will get access to a bunch of new SAP tech – hands on. River, Gateway, Sybase Unwired Platform and hopefully even HANA, will be at your fingertips.

Other than that, the Enterprise Mobility content looks to be excellent as well as the in-Memory hands on sessions. Plus the Expert Networking lounges – fuelled by comunity members – are well worth considering.


The main thing I took from the conversation with Chip is that SAP TechEd Madrid is a huge event for SAP. It is now much more relevant to Sales & Presales people than ever before and if you want some technical content, the extra ¢640 is well worth spending, to get access to both TechEd and SAPPHIRE content. Plus the band will be awesome.

Vegas will be as great as it was before – and no doubt the North American & Australian audiences will gladly flock back.

P.S. TechEd is also running in Bangalore and Shanghai – hopefully someone can write about those 🙂

Disclosure: SAP is covering my travel and accommodation for SAP TechEd Las Vegas and SAPPHIRE Madrid

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  • Of course, I live in the US.  So there is not any consideration, I will be going to the Vegas one.   Just my 10 cents - there is some differences in the sessions.  The Vegas one includes speakers from ASUG.  So there are the ASUG sessions.

    Madrid?  I would say any Teched that you can get to.  GO!  They are all going to be great fun with lots of information.  Personally I've only been to the ones in the US.  Vegas was our spot last time.   Party?  Really?  I'm half dead after all of the fun things I do with Teched.  Innojam, Demo Jam, Embracing Inclusion- Driving Innovation - Embracing Inclusion – Driving Innovation : An Introduction - WOW - those are parties in themselves.   Seriously Vegas is a party town.  There is a lot to do.  I just find myself having a hard time doing any of it.  Friday night - after Teched, I am going to a show.

    My take - any Teched you can get to will be a GREAT time!  (But go to Vegas - I'd love to meet you 🙂


    • Yes - honestly I'm not expecting many people to make the trek from the USA to Madrid - it makes no sense. But in the past a lot of people have made the journey to SAPPHIRE Orlando or TechEd Las Vegas and I think that the Europe event in Madrid this year will be just as good - if not better - than its US counterpart.

      I seem to remember finding plenty of time to go out for shows, dinners and fun in Las Vegas. Maybe you're getting old Michelle? 🙂

      This year should be less exhausting because at least TechEd Berlin and Las Vegas are not back to back. I think a lot of people - including me - will be taking the weekend off after TechEd!

      • John,

        I think us "old" folks wonder if you ever sleep.  Yes I agree there is still plenty of time to enjoy the attractions of Las Vegas, if you don't mind staying up late.  I assume if you will be getting us some VIP tickets to few shows right?

        For those of us in the US the issue is usually flight cost and international travel restrictions.  The actual length of flight doesn't matter as we can spend just as much time flying around the US as going oversees.  Although on the flight costs, I have to stand corrected as Europe is sometimes cheaper than the east or west coast in terms of round trip cost.

        Take care,


        • I do sleep sometimes, honest! It is late nights and early mornings but it's only for one week. I can't promise any tickets for the type of "shows" I think you're talking about! 🙂

          Yes I've noticed in the US that flight costs don't have much to do with duration - they're very random, presumably based on the number of flights and their popularity.

          For those in Europe, Vegas or Madrid are roughly the same cost. The Vegas event and hotels are cheaper but flights are more. I'm not sure what it's like for people who are already stateside - probably Europe is substantially more expensive.

    • The theme for InnoJam Las Vegas is Gamify your enterprise. I think that is very cool and will be super interesting to be part of a team to develop something during these 2 days.

      I am also looking forward to experience Madrid, but currently I am more excited about the Vegas event.

      See you all there, Mark.
      P.S. Full disclosure: SAP is paying my travel to both events too 😉

      • Yep and I'm bummed I can't make Innojam - just can't fly out in time. Am looking forward to it in Madrid - make it great for everyone.

        SAP is covering your travel. I'd hope so, you do work for them afterall 🙂